Mike Greenwell

This probably didn't end well.

Why we like him: When I think back to Red Sox players of my childhood, I first think of Wade Boggs, Professional Hitter, then I think of that turd in the punchbowl, Roger Clemens, and then I think about Mike Greenwell.  Greenwell was and still is a very underrated player from an era chock full of underrated players.  He was a sweet-swingin' lefty and a career .303 hitter during a time when .315-ish at least got you in the hunt for a batting title every year.  On top of everything else, his nickname was "Gator," and he just looked like a ballplayer.

Greenwell spent all 12 seasons of his major-league career with Boston, which speaks volumes about his loyalty to the city and the organization.  I don't even like the Sox, but I have to admire Greenwell for his character as well as his abilities.  Greenwell's 1987 and 1988 seasons were very productive for any era, but in the offensively devoid late 80s, his stats made him seem like a sure Hall-of-Famer and the second coming of Ted Williams.  He finished 4th in Rookie of the Year voting in 1987, and came in 2nd in MVP voting in 1988 behind only a 'roided up Jose Canseco.

Greenwell stayed in Boston until the end of the 1996 season when he was just 32.  He then decided to take his talents to South Beach...of Honshu.  He signed on with everyone's favorite Japanese squad, the Hanshin Tigers, for $2.5 million (that's 150 kajillion-zillion yen!) in the spring of '97, but lasted only a few days before returning home after fracturing his left foot on a foul ball. He retired that year to the surprise of fans, teammates, and coaches alike.

Looking back, I think the only thing that separates Greenwell from the greatness he only just started to achieve (and probably ultimately deserved) was the weight of the expectations. As a kid that was still new to the game, I don't think I really understood what that must have been like for him.  He trotted out to the same patch of grass in left field in Boston in front of the legendary Green Monster everyday where Teddy Ballgame, Yaz, and Jim Rice used to play.  The Boston fans just assumed that this little Greenwell guy was going to be the next in the lineage, and while he impressed, he was never the legend those other guys were.  But Greenwell was good.  Really good. At least for a little while.

Ladies and gentlemen, Mike Greenwell, Ballplayer.

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